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'Waldo cannot hide forever' - UChicago Supplement: Where's Waldo

vmw95 1 / 1  
Oct 26, 2012   #1
Hey guys! I've gotten mixed reviews on this essay - my dean and english teacher said they thought it was interesting, but my sister said it was confusing and wasn't a strong essay. I'm a little worried now, and I was hoping to get some feedback from you guys?


So where is Waldo, really?


So where is Waldo, really? This question seems to stump them all. Children, teenagers, and adults alike all struggle to answer this question, staring endlessly at an illustration of a crowded beach. I admit: I, too, belong in this group. While my eyes light up at the approach of a fresh challenge, they tire after a few minutes, tear up after about five, and burn with frustration at the seemingly infinite number of figures obstructing the discovery of Waldo. Thus, I decided to take a new approach. I gave my fatigued eyes a break and sought not the solution to my problem, but the cause of my frustration.

The search for Waldo is difficult not because he is camouflaged in a corner, but because, on that very same beach, there are dozens of possible Waldos, tricking our eyes and taking advantage of our tendency to stereotype.

Anyone who knows of this Waldo in question can describe him to you: red and white striped hat and sweater, blue jeans, black hair, and round glasses. Just as anyone with small, slanted eyes is deemed "Asian," and people with big noses and dark hair are labeled "Jews," this description creates a template we name "Waldo." We know how Waldo dresses and how he accessorizes, but that's all. If we identify Waldo solely by his clothes, hair color, and eyewear, aren't there millions of Waldos out there, roaming the world in their striped sweaters?

And thus, the challenge begins. Within the pictures, red and white sweaters, hats, and round glasses are thrown about on various people. A blonde woman might be wearing a Waldo-esque sweater, and for a second, our minds perceive her to be Waldo. Another dark haired man could be wearing a hat similar to Waldo's, and we believe we have completed the challenge until we see his yellow shirt. In our frustration, we might deceive ourselves and take the easy way out, convincing ourselves that another man wearing Waldo's clothes had simply forgotten to put on his glasses that morning. However, we use the man's sweater as an identifier of Waldo, just as some people see my eyes and automatically assume I am Chinese (which, although is correct, remains a stereotypical assumption). Our brains utilize faulty reasoning to make these conclusions and give our minds a simple way to identify and classify others: Chinese people have slanted eyes; Victoria has slanted eyes; therefore, she is Chinese. Likewise, we attempt to find Waldo in this manner: Waldo wears a red and white striped sweater; this man is wearing a red and white striped sweater; therefore, this man is Waldo. But he isn't.

Now that I have presented this problem in our methods of finding Waldo, a solution is presumed to follow; however, the solution is unnecessary. Even though we might assume someone is Waldo, we ultimately continue our search upon realizing our mistake and do not stop until we finally find him. Stereotyping is an impulse that cannot be controlled: it is an instinctual function of our brain - an attempt at creating order through categorization. The only method of minimizing judgment is the repression of such assumptions, and our determination to find Waldo suggests progression past these initial stereotypes as we continue our search to find a man who encompasses not one, but all the qualities of "Waldo". The longer the search, the closer we get to finding him; thus, our search continues.

To answer your question: I have no idea where Waldo could be. Every now and then, I see someone on the street sporting a Waldo sweater or donning black, round glasses, but in the end, I am still searching. Maybe I will spot Waldo on a hike through Big Bend National Park, or, hopefully, I will run into him at the University of Chicago. Either way, I will find him - Waldo cannot hide forever.

Enabledowner 4 / 14  
Oct 26, 2012   #2
Don't listen to your sister, this is great! Your prose is fantastic, you have obviously spent a lot of time and effort on this essay! Perhaps there are one or two tiny grammatical errors that could be fixed, but they are few and far between. I like the hopeful nod to the university at the end!

If I had to locate what may be the weakest part of your essay, I'd say your intro "This question seems to stump them all. Children..." could use a little grammatical work. Maybe "alike have all struggled to answer ... endlessly at an illustrations of crowded beaches , congested malls, and packed Jurassic Jungles (I make these suggestions, but they aren't really necessary, you have done an amazing job)

I wish you luck in your application process! Who knows, if we're lucky I may see you there.
chiragjain 2 / 8  
Oct 26, 2012   #3
interesting! i like the way you end your essay (the last paragraph) good work!

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